Would you agree to be locked into a small, confined space for 520 days, with virtually no access to the outside world? Most people would consider this to be a punishment, but at least 70 people have volunteered to undergo this experience.
As part of the preparations for a manned space flight to Mars, Russian scientists have outfitted a special “spaceship” in Moscow. They want to study how human beings will react physically and psychologically when living in conditions that mimic those of a mission to Mars.
During the experiment, volunteers will live in the same conditions as astronauts. Air will be recycled, food will be rationed, and no tobacco or alcohol will be available. Contact with the outside world will also be limited by the scientists; although the “astronauts” will have radios and e-mail, communication will be artificially routed to simulate the delay expected with a real Mars mission.
The Mars-500 project will have a multi-national crew of six. Volunteers must be between 25 and 50, speak English and Russian, and have a university degree, preferably in medicine, biology, engineering or computer science. They must also be in good physical and mental health, and be able to get along well with other people. So far, 70 applications have been received from men and women in 17 different countries.
So, if you know someone who qualifies for the experiment, and doesn’t mind the gruelling conditions, he or she should move fast. The experiment should be completed by the end of the decade, and a real manned mission to Mars could, scientists believe, take place within the next 20 years.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
ANSWER QUESTIONS 1-2 ACCORDING TO THE INFORMATION GIVEN IN THE TEXT. USE YOUR OWN WORDS.
1) What is the purpose of the Mars-500 project?
- To study how human beings will cope with living in conditions that are similar to a mission to Mars.
2) How will the conditions during the experiment be similar to a real mission?
- The air will be recycled, food will be rationed and tobacco and alcohol won’t be available. There will also be limited contact with the outside world.
ARE THESE STATEMENTS TRUE OR FALSE? JUSTIFY YOUR ANSWERS WITH WORDS OR PHRASES FROM THE TEXT.
3) The experiment will be conducted by Russian scientists in Moscow.
4) Participants will be unable to receive e-mails while in the “spaceship”.
5) Scientists have not set age limits for project volunteers.
6) The crew must include volunteers from England and Russia.
II. USE OF ENGLISH
7) Find in the text a synonym for TEAM (noun).
8) Give one opposite for SMALL (adjective, line 1).
9) Find in the text the word which has the following definition: “talk” (verb).
10) Give an adjective with the same root as BELIEVE (verb, line 18).
11) Turn the following sentence into the passive voice.
Scientists will carry out more detailed projects in the future.
12) Complete the following conditional sentence.
- If I had the opportunity to travel to space, I would visit / would go to / would travel to Mars.
13) Rewrite the sentence without changing its meaning. Begin as indicated.
Most people consider this to be a punishment.
- Most people think (that) this is a punishment.
14) Fill in the gap with a correct preposition.
- The fear of travelling to space is greater than the danger.